BibleTruth.cc

"The God Who Is There" Series

Knowing God

Personal Relationship with Your Creator!

By David M Rogers

www.BibleTruth.cc

Written & Published: 2005

Second Edition: November 2007

Table of Contents

The God Who Seeks Personal Relationships with People

The Sin Problem

The True Identity of Yahusha of Nazareth

Becoming a Member of God's Family

How to Recognize God's People

What it Means to Love God

Having a Personal Relationship with God


The very thought of knowing God may seem ludicrous to some.  Surely, the Creator of the universe has better things to do with his time than to waste it on insignificant clumps of human clay.  Right?  Well, if you don't read and believe the Bible, it would be easy to take such a view.  But even a superficial perusal of the Scriptures demonstrates that this is not so.

The God Who Seeks Personal Relationships with People

One of the most meaningful and relevant themes of the Bible for modern day man is that of God wanting to be known by mere mortals - human being like you and me.  The Scriptures repeatedly portray God as attempting to establish a personal relationship with members of the human race.  And the theme of redemption, which is woven throughout the Bible, is the story of God trying to repair and reestablish relationship with wayward people.

The Bible reveals God as the Creator of all things:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

Yet, the culmination of his creation is mankind.  After he had created water, air, sun, moon, stars, planets, green things, trees, flowers, birds, fish and all kinds of animals, he completed his creative acts by making man:

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Genesis 1:26-28)

Curiously, there was something different about this act of creation.  All other things made took on a form of their own.  But God created man with a special form.  He created man in His own image!

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 

Thus, God has revealed something about himself.  He created man in His own image!  But why?  Why did God want to create someone just like himself?

The answer is to be found in the next chapter of Genesis.  We come to find out that God is spending time with the man and woman he formed from the dust of the ground:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:8).

That God was walking around among the greenery of the garden calling out for and looking for man suggests that God was in the habit of walking and talking with man before Adam's sin.  So it becomes rather evident that God created man in His own image for the purpose of finding friendship with him.

And, in fact, we find that the record of Scripture indicates that God has been communicating with mankind, since creation till now, in a variety of ways.  The writer to the Hebrews expresses this point as follows:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,  in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1:1,2 NAS)

This communication from God was for the purpose of developing a covenant relationship with the human race.  God continually expressed his desire to help and bless His people, if only they would believe and obey his good council and instruction to them.

It was said of Abraham that God considered him His friend:

"But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,  I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:8-10)

Moses, too, was a friend of God:

Exodus 33:11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

As we noted above, Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden of Eden.  Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, also walked with God.  In fact, he was such a close friend with God that God "took" him:

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. (Genesis 5:24)

Because Enoch was such a close friend, God actually removed him from the earth and took him to heaven to be with Him before death!

David, king of Israel, expressed dozens, if not hundreds of times his love for the living God.  It is hard to imagine how David could passionately communicate and record his deep love for God if he did not have a close, personal relationship with Him.  The prophets, likewise, and many others, whose stories have been chronicled in the Scriptures, have expressed in a variety of ways, their personal relationship with the Sovereign Creator.

Since there is no commandment in the Torah which expressly mandates the need for a personal relationship with the living God, some Torah scholars have argued that God does not require man to have a personal relationship with Him in order to be in covenant relation with Him.  But it is difficult to take seriously someone who argues as such.  To take that view seems to betray an ulterior motive; perhaps a distaste and a felt need to distance themselves from the Christian concept of a personal relationship with J*sus.

Although there is no commandment in the Torah which explicitly expresses our need to develop a personal relationship with God (at least in those terms), it is still manifestly clear that such a personal relationship with the Almighty is a prerequisite to the covenant relationship people have with Him.  The single most important commandment in all of Scripture presumes a personal relationship with the living God.  Jewish Torah scholars and New Testament Christians do agree that the single greatest commandment in the TaNaK is to 

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Even in human relationships, we don't love someone with this kind of intensity with whom we don't have a close relationship.  So it is with God.  This love which we are to have for Elohim presupposes that we have, first of all, a personal knowledge of and friendship with Him.  Thus, to love God with everything within me is to know Him better than I even know myself, and to cling to Him as a best friend.

The Sin Problem

But there is a problem.  Though God created man for relationship, and though He still seeks people with whom to have relationship, there is one huge impediment to this friendship.  And that problem is sin.  Everyone is familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.  They were given plain and simple instructions.  But they choose to flagrantly disobey the clearly defined will of God in this matter.  And just as soon as they ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve became aware of their broken fellowship with God and they hid themselves from Him.  The end result was their being cast out of the Paradise made for them.

One of the greatest Hebrew Torah scholars of all time tells us that every human being born is a descendant of Adam and Eve and followed in their footsteps:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

In fact, the downward spiral of the moral fabric of man, which is described by the Hebrew prophets, is summed up in the book of Romans.  Quoting these ancient prophets, Paul writes,

As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."  "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips."  "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."  "Their feet are swift to shed blood;  ruin and misery mark their ways,  and the way of peace they do not know."  "There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18).

The prophets had over and over again revealed to their contemporaries the effect of their sin on the relationship between mankind and their Maker.  And, again, Paul sums it up:

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).

For the wages of sin is death.... (Romans 6:23)

Disobedience to God's instructions caused a rift in the friendship between God and Adam and Eve.  Disobedience to God's instructions (the Torah) has caused a rift in the friendship and fellowship between every human after them and the Creator God.

Sin is the cause and reason for all pain, sorrow, suffering and death in the world.  Disobedience to God's instructions (the Torah), which were given to man for his happiness and well-being, naturally results in sorrow, pain and death.  God has given man the Torah, which means, "Instruction," to show people the way to life, happiness and peace.  So, to ignore and move contrary to these life-giving instructions will lead naturally to death.

When one chooses to ignore the Creator God, or to pretend that He does not exist, he has made a free will choice to follow in the path which leads to futility, disappointment, pain and sorrow, and ultimately death.  Those who refuse to acknowledge the presence of God in the universe end up, in their thinking, with no reason to live.  If the world as we know it came into existence by pure chance (i.e. evolution apart from God's hand), then you and I have no ultimate purpose for our existence.  In the end, it does not really matter whether we live a moral or an immoral life, or even whether we live or die.  Nothing we do will really matter after we are gone if there is no God in the picture.  And this hopeless, meaningless, purposeless frame of mind is what is left to the person who refuses to acknowledge God and follow his instructions for living.

We have all disavowed God when we sinned.  And we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  This sin will lead to eternal death if we do nothing about it.  And yet, there is nothing we can do for ourselves about it.  For we are all guilty of sin and are therefore under the death sentence.  But God has made a provision for anyone who is under this death decree to find a way out from under it!

Out of his deep love for mankind, and motivated by his desire to reestablish a personal relationship with fallen human beings, God made a plan to get sinners out from under the death decree which has fallen upon all of us through sin.  God's plan is to have someone else become a substitute for you and me, and take our place in receiving the death sentence.  This way, you and I don't have to die an eternal death even though we sinned.  And the death sentence is still carried out according to the law.

This plan was pictured for the ancient Israelite community in the sacrifice of innocent animals.  The one who was guilty of committing sin was to take an innocent animal, and offer it as a sacrifice - a substitute for himself.  This animal was killed because of the sin of the sinner.  This sacrifice was designed to bring the guilty sinner to sorrow for the death of the animal, which in turn was to lead that sinner to repent (turn away from) his sin.  This animal's death was also designed to foreshadow, or picture, the death of the person who was perfectly qualified to be a substitute for you and me in death.

When John (called "the Baptizer") saw Yahusha (a.k.a. "Jesus") of Nazareth coming to be anointed by the Holy Spirit, he called out,

Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

John recognized the purpose for which Yahusha had come into the world.  God had chosen Yahusha to be the sacrifice and substitute for you and me.  Thus, Yahusha became for you and me the means to (or source of) eternal life and the one who rescues us from death:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Yahusha (Jesus) our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

In this act of sending a substitute sacrifice for us so that we may live, God has communicated to us his deep desire to establish and develop a close, personal relationship with the human race.  Paul infers this conclusion when he points out that 

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God must have placed a great value on our lives and on our friendship to have gone through so much trouble to find an appropriate and qualifying substitute to take our place in death.

The True Identity of Yahusha of Nazareth

Just who is Yahusha of Nazareth?  Why did God choose him to be the substitution for you and me in death?  What is it about him that qualifies him to be the acceptable substitute for us?  Let's see what the Scriptures say about the identity of Yahusha of Nazareth.  Let's consider the biblical testimony of those who met him on earth and the testimony of Yahusha himself.

John the baptizer saw Yahusha coming to him along the banks of the Jordan River and exclaimed,

"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29, NIV)

It was revealed to John that Yahusha was the one who was to fulfill the scriptural promise of a redeemer.  He was to be the one who would be sacrificed on behalf of others, to make atonement for sin.

When Yahusha asked his disciples who they thought he was, Peter replied,

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16, NIV)

Peter believed that Yahusha was the Messiah which the Scriptures speak of.  Yahusha confirmed that Peter was correct in his assessment by responding,

"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 16:17, NIV)

The apostle John provides startling testimony of the identity of Yahusha:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4, NIV)

First, John asserts that "the Word" is the Creator God, who is God and was with God in the beginning.  And this "Word" also has light and life within himself.  He then goes on to identify this "Word" and place a name on him:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'"  From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known. (John 1:14-18, NIV)

That is to say, the Creator God "became flesh," i.e., he became a member of the human race.  And his name is "Yahusha" ("Jesus," as the NIV text renders the name, is actually derived from a Greek language substitution name which found its way into the English texts and into the modern Christian tradition.  More about that in The Name of the Messiah.)

John further describes Yahusha's identity as "God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side."  No one has ever seen Yahuwah, the Father (who is a Spirit being according to John 4:24).  But Yahusha, who "stands alongside" Yahuwah the Father, is the physical manifestation of Yahuwah, and thus "has made him known."  Yahusha is, thus, both God (Yahuwah) and human.

Yahusha Himself confirms this later in John's written account of His ministry.  During one of his many confrontations with the religious authorities of his day, Yahusha was grilled about his ancestry.  His enemies accused him of being empowered by the devil, while they claimed to speak for God because they were Abraham's physical descendants.  Yahusha denied the claims of the Pharisees and instead insisted that He and God the Father (Yahuwah) were working together side by side.  Yahusha then insisted that his enemies were not anything like Abraham and that He himself was the object of Abraham's joy:

"Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." (John 8:56, NIV)

The Pharisees, of course, vehemently objected to his statement that he (Yahusha) was a contemporary of the patriarch Abraham.  In their view, this was a physical impossibility:

"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" (John 8:57, NIV)

How could Yahusha, who was certainly still within the age parameters of one who could go to war, have seen Abraham, who had died approximately 1800 years earlier? 

This objection flung the door wide open for Yahusha to identify himself.

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58, NIV)

This claim was astounding for several reasons.  First, among the living of their day, no one could have been living that long.  People of that time lived typically for less than one hundred years.  Only God could have pre-existed before Abraham.  Thus Yahusha was claiming to be God.

Second, he not only used age as an evidence of who he is, but he also used the sacred name as his own!  His claim that "before Abraham was born, I am," is reminiscent of a conversation which took place between Moses and Yahuwah.  When Moses asked God how he was to answer those who insisted on knowing who it was that was sending him, God told him,

"I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"  God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD (Hebrew, hwhy "Yahuwah"), the God of your fathers-- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob-- has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. (Exodus 3:14-15, NIV)

Thus, when Yahusha stated that "before Abraham was born, I am," He was actually invoking the sacred name as his own!  He claimed of himself the sacred name, Yahuwah, except that he claimed it in the first person singular, as only God Himself can properly speak His own name.  But why should this be shocking?  He was simply speaking the truth (i.e. "I tell you the truth" John 8:58).  Yahusha was identifying himself as none other than Yahuwah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, come down in human flesh!

Some object to identifying Yahusha with Elohim.  After all, the Scriptures are very clear that Elohim (God) is one:

dx'(a hw"hy> Wnyhel{a/ hw"hy> lae_r"f.yI [m;v

Hear, Israel!  Yahuwah is our Elohim. Yahuwah is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4, my translation)

Most Jews and some Messianics think it to be the epitome of false doctrine to equate Yahusha with Elohim, because, in their view, this would constitute polytheism - the belief in a plurality of Gods.  But this is not so.  The Scriptures quoted above testify that it was Yahusha who created the heavens and the earth.  And it was Yahusha who spoke to and revealed himself to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Yahusha confirms that he is Elohim, and that Elohim is one.  He affirmed the fact that he and his Father are one:

Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.  But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.  I and my Father are one. (John 10:25-30)

This testimony of Yahusha that He and his Father are one, is clearly intended to call to the listener's mind Deuteronomy 6:4.  Yahusha can appropriately come in the name of his Father and do works in the name of his Father because he and his Father are one and the same!

So it is, that when we come to consider the questions, "Why did God choose Yahusha to be the substitution for you and me in death? What is it about him that qualifies him to be the acceptable substitute for us?," the answer becomes clear.  God chose to fulfill the requirement of an appropriate substitution for us in death by volunteering to be that sacrifice himself!  The God of Creation is the only one who can satisfy the requirements of an acceptable substitute for a fallen human being.  Thus, God chose to become human flesh in order that He could die our death in our place!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Yahusha) our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

and

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

God's love for us is truly great.  And he demonstrated this love at the cross:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:13-14, NIV)

Certainly, so great a love ought to be met with an appropriate response on our part.

Becoming a Member of God's Family

What, then, is an appropriate reaction from us?  What would be the correct response to God to show him that we gratefully accept his offer of friendship and reconciliation?  How can I become a member of God's family?  Or, to put it another way, as many Christians do, how can I be saved?

Paul gives us the answer:

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:9-13)

Anyone who confesses that "Jesus is Lord" and believes in his heart that He was raised from the dead is reconciled to God.  He "will be saved" as Paul puts it.  It is that simple.  But what does it mean to confess that "Jesus is Lord"?  And what does it mean to "believe in your heart?"

Many professing Christians make the mistake of thinking that this is a magical formula.  But it most certainly is not!  It is loaded heavily with meaning.  Let's retranslate the phrase, "Jesus is Lord."  We have already briefly described the problem with the name "Jesus."  The real name of the Messiah from Nazareth is Yahusha.  This is His Hebrew name (again, for a more detailed discussion of His name, read  About God's Holy Name) and it means, "Yahuwah is salvation."  So, we can begin our revised translation, "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Yahusha is ____.'"

Paul goes on to elaborate on the confession which results in being "saved" in the verses that follow.  He quotes the Scriptures, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame," which is a paraphrase of Psalm 25:3, and "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved," which is cited from Joel 2:32:

And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.

Note carefully that the prophet Joel used the sacred name, Yahuwah, where he described the condition of receiving deliverance (or "being saved" as Paul and many others say).  The phrase "the LORD" in the verse above should be rendered "Yahuwah."  Thus, it should read, "Everyone who calls on the name of Yahuwah will be saved."

So, the confession that Paul instructs us to make which leads to salvation is not merely "Yahusha is 'lord' or 'master.'"  The confession is more specific than that!  The confession is that "Yahusha is Yahuwah"!  This fits naturally into our understanding of who Yahusha is.  We have discovered above that Yahusha claimed, by using the sacred name for himself, to be none other than Yahuwah in the flesh.

And to "believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead," means to be wholly convinced that God's love for me is the real deal.  It means to be completely committed to allowing His plan to be accomplished in my life.  It means to have a complete surrender of my heart to His will.  It means that I will stop living my life my own way, and begin living my life His way.  It means I will submit to His instructions, because I know that He knows me better than I know myself, and wants to lead me into the way of peace, happiness and long life.  And it means that as I believe that Yahusha was raised from the dead, so I also believe that God will raise from the dead all who put their trust in Him.

Thus, Paul's confession unto salvation is the realization that the Messiah is one and the same as the Creator God and includes the surrender of my heart to do his will in my live.  So we can finish our revised translation: "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Yahusha is Yahuwah' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."  This is the confession and the heart attitude of the one God accepts into his family.

The complete surrender of my will is an important component of the heart attitude which God accepts.  If I do not completely surrender my will to His, and if I think that I can accomplish, on my own, any part of that work which God required to reconcile me to Him, then I have fallen short of the scriptural meaning of "faith."  My own attempts at righteousness are seen in God's sight as a complete failure:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6, NIV)

Isaiah says that our own "good deeds" or "righteous acts" are like a used menstrual cloth, which is only good for being burned up.

And in another place, Paul informs us that

it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9, NIV)

that is to say, the salvation which God brings to us is a work which He alone can accomplish.  Just as Yahusha, Yahuwah God in the flesh, was the only being in the universe qualified to become our substitute in death, God alone, without any help from us, is the only one who can procure salvation for us.  We have no part in making ourselves "good enough" for God.

How to Recognize God's People

But this does not mean that our faith response to Him can be one of slothfulness.  There is no such thing as "cheap grace."  God has not saved us from our sins and rescued us from our death sentence so that we may become lazy lawbreakers.  Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 2 that

we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (verse 10, NIV)

God has redeemed us with his own death on the cross, not so that we can break His law and live as we please, but so that we can become all that He wants us to be.  He created us to do good works.  And he has defined those good works and instructed us as to what pleases him in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament).  And he has redeemed us from our sins so that we can go on to fulfill His purpose for creating us, which is to do good works (by being obedient to His perfect and righteous Law).

If we understand the purpose for our own existence, and the price God had paid to rescue us from sin, we can begin to understand what it means to belong to God.  Then we can know how to recognize a genuine believer when we see one.  The authentic faith response can be clearly identified by a person's outward behavior.  This is what Yahusha meant when he warned his disciples, 

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers (Greek, avnomian "lawbreakers")!'  (Matthew 7:15-23, NIV)

God is not mocked when people make a superficial confession of faith.  When a man says, "Jesus is master," and goes out and makes a habit of breaking God's laws and doing as He pleases, we may safely conclude that his "faith" is not genuine.  On judgment day, Yahusha will reject all who claim to have been living for Him and calling on His name and yet have been disobeying his instructions and commandments.

Yahusha said in another place the same thing:

"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.  You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (Matthew 12:33-35, NIV)

A genuine believer can be recognized by his good lifestyle and godly behavior.  And a fake or merely pretending Christian can be recognized by his hypocrisy and lawbreaking behavior.

It makes good sense that a person who has genuine godly faith will also have good works which put true faith on display.  James, the brother of Yahusha, describes in tangible terms, the genuine faith in God:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:14-18, NIV)

So, James can go on to encourage believers to make an effort to continually look to the Word of God for instruction and encouragement to live a life which pleases God:

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-- he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:21-25, NIV)

Therefore, the genuine heart response to Yahuwah's love for us as demonstrated in Yahusha's death on the cross on our behalf  is to love Him in return and to do as he instructs.

What it Means to Love God

The Bible is also very clear about how to identify the person who truly loves God.  Both the Tanach (Old Testament) and the Brit Chadeshah (New Testament) convey the same message.  Love for God is always, always demonstrated and displayed by obeying His commandments.

Encoded within the Ten Commandments is the message that to love God is parallel in meaning to "keeping his commandments."  God describes himself as judging those who disobey his commandments,

...but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:6, NAS)

...but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Deuteronomy 5:10, NAS.  See also Deuteronomy 7:9)

On the one hand,  the commandment of God itself is to love Yahuwah your God:

For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him (Deuteronomy 11:22)

If you carefully observe all this commandment which I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in His ways always (Deuteronomy 19:9)

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. (Deuteronomy 30:15-16)

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Joshua 22:5)

But on the other hand, "to love Yahuwah your God" is defined as obedience to God's commands:

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, NAS)

Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD'S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

You shall therefore love the LORD your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments. (Deuteronomy 11:1)

Thus, "loving Yahuwah your God" and "keeping His commandments" are interchangeable or synonymous in meaning!  To love God is demonstrated by keeping the commandments.  And keeping the commandments are the outward expression of loving Yahuwah.

The Brit Chadeshah (New Testament) teaches the same lesson.  Messiah Yahusha taught his disciples that to love him is to obey what he commands:

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15)

"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." (John 14:21)

"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (John 15:10)

Yahusha further stated that the one who loves Him will keep his commands.  But conversely, the one who does not love him does not keep his commandments:

"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me." (John 14:23-24)

The apostle John explains that these principles set down by Yahusha can be utilized as a barometer for identifying the true child of God.  They are, in fact, to be used to test for the genuineness of one's love for God:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3)

Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.  And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. (2 John 1:5-6)

It is interesting to note that John insists that he is not bringing a new commandment to the table.  The commandment to love one another is an old command, taken from the Torah, the Old Testament Law!  Thus, John's commandment to love and walk according to His commandments is the "Old" commandment quoted above from Deuteronomy!  The outward display of love for God has always been, in times of the Old and New Testaments, demonstrated by obeying the commandments of God which are spelled out in the Torah.

Having a Personal Relationship with God

God has been working towards developing and sustaining a personal relationship with you.  He has personally taken care of the only obstacle to your having a friendship with Him.  He manifested himself in a human body so that He could take your place in death so that you can spend an eternal life as His friend.  In exchange for his demonstration of love and His outreach of friendship, God wants your response to be one of obedience to his instructions.

The apostle John summarizes what it means to have a personal knowledge of and friendship with the living God:

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.  The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;  but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:  the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.   Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. (1 John 2:3-7 NAS)

John is saying that those who know God do keep His commandments.  And he is also saying the converse: those who do not know Him do not keep His commandments.  Or, to put it another way, those who do not keep His commandments do not love Him!

This is precisely the point which Yahusha was making when he made that statement which seems so difficult to decipher:

Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! (Greek,  oi` evrgazo,menoi th.n anomi,an "doers of Lawlessness")'  (Matthew 7:21-23, NIV)

Those who only pay lip service to God but do not obey His Word will be rejected in the judgment.  There are many who call themselves "Christian" but do not feel the need to be obedient to his Word and his Law.  Such are lawbreakers.  And of these, Yahusha will say, "I never knew you."  Such people are hypocrites and give Christianity a bad reputation.

We can know God.  Yahuwah wants to be known by us.  He wants to have a personal relationship, a friendship with you and me.  But to know Him is to love Him.  And to love Him is to obey His word.  Thus, those who genuinely know God can be identified by their lifestyle and behavior.  "By their fruits you shall know them."  Let's be serious in our pursuit of God.  Let's do as He desires.  Let's believe what He says and be obedient to His word.

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